After the European Union proposed sanctions against Patriarch Kirill of Moscow for his support of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war efforts, several prominent leaders of Eastern Orthodox churches have asked for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s help to prevent this from happening.
Azbej Tristan, head of Hungary’s State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, said several church leaders, such as the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch, the head of foreign affairs of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the adviser to the governor of the Hungarian Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, wrote to Orbán, who they described as “the voice of Christianity and common sense.”
They wrote that the idea of the European Commission could set a dangerous precedent for keeping other churches in check with political sanctions. However, for Hungary, religious freedom is sacred, and so it does not support the sanctioning of church leaders, Tristan said.
In connection with the events, Orbán also argued on state channel Kossuth Rádio on Friday morning that in order to protect Patriarch Kirill, Hungary should engage in open debate if necessary.
“We will not support the inclusion of church leaders on the sanctions list,” Orbán declared. “This affects the issue of religious freedom in Hungarian communities, and it is sacred and inviolable,” he added.